Stopping Unsafe Disposal of Used PPE
Recently, the residents of the District’s Burleith Community in Ward 2 reported to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) that medical waste from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital (“MedStar”) was being improperly discarded in their neighborhood by staff members after they exited the hospital. Residents observed masks, gloves, and other PPE were being thrown away on streets, sidewalks, and other public areas in Burleith. To protect the health and safety of our residents during COVID-19, OAG attorneys worked with MedStar Hospital to update their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) disposal procedures.
In a letter to MedStar, OAG warned the hospital that the disposal of medical waste endangers the health and safety of Burleith residents and outlined the penalties individuals can face for violating the District’s illegal dumping laws.
In response, MedStar developed and implemented protective measures for its employees and community members. Among other measures, MedStar has:
- Added “reminder” signs and additional trash cans at each hospital exit so that patients, visitors, and associates may conveniently discard items.
- Instructed security personnel to ask associates leaving the hospital to remove any items, such as gloves, gowns and hair nets/caps prior to exiting.
- Secured temporary on-campus parking spots from Georgetown University so essential hospital associates can park on campus.
- Added additional hours each day for the community clean-up, which will continue 7 days a week.
- Created a new streamlined email process where community members can report any items they find in the covered area to MGUHcommunitycleanup@medstar.net.
In order to further encourage employees to stop littering in the surrounding neighborhood, MedStar also:
- Updated security personnel training to emphasize how important it is to enforce the MedStar policy that requires employees to remove disposable head, foot and hand coverings before leaving the building.
- Trained security personnel to be especially alert during shift changes and busy times when many employees are leaving the building.
- Raised awareness by telling MedStar leaders and departments about the improper disposal and requiring them to share the message with their associates.
OAG thanks MedStar Hospital for their cooperation to put a stop to improper PPE disposal in the community. OAG will continue to take swift and decisive action in order keep District residents safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Report Problems to OAG
If you have questions, concerns, or feedback for OAG, reach out to our Office of Community Engagement by calling (202) 727-3400 or emailing OAGCommunity@dc.gov.